The Historic Name Change to “The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square”
On October 5, 2018, the world-renowned Mormon Tabernacle Choir announced its name change to “The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square” to better align with the Choir’s sponsoring organization, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The new name for the Choir preserved the heritage of the Choir’s home in the Tabernacle and its location on Temple Square. Though the Choir announced a new name, the Choir’s mission remained unchanged: to provide music that has the power to uplift, inspire, and bring listeners closer to the divine.
From the earliest days, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have used singing as a means of drawing closer to the Lord. In 1847, just three weeks after arriving in the Salt Lake Valley, a small pioneer choir was organized to sing for the first conference of the Church in their new settlement. In 1849, John Parry was called to formally organize a choir for Church conferences. This choir first made its home at Temple Square in an outdoor bowery and then in a small adobe tabernacle that replaced it in 1852. On October 6, 1867, the first conference meetings in the larger new Tabernacle—now still standing on Temple Square—were held, and the “Tabernacle Choir” name was in regular use. Since then, the Tabernacle has been home to the Choir, which is known worldwide for its one-of-a-kind signature sound shaped in part by the venue from which it emanates.
Over the years, a variety of names have been used for this choir based on Temple Square in Salt Lake City. By 1869, the Choir was known as both the “Tabernacle Choir” and “Salt Lake Tabernacle Choir” to differentiate it from other choirs organized in Utah cities where additional tabernacles had been built, such as St. George, Ogden, and Brigham City. As the Choir began to tour in the 1890s and when it began to record its music in the 1910s, the names “Salt Lake Tabernacle Choir” and “Salt Lake Mormon Tabernacle Choir” were used to identify the Choir for audiences outside of Utah. By 1929, when the Choir began broadcasting its weekly radio program now known as Music & the Spoken Word, the name “Mormon Tabernacle Choir” was used more consistently as the broadcast reached out to a wider audience.
At the semiannual Church general conference meetings throughout the years, the name announced for the Choir varied from “Our Choir” to “Tabernacle Choir” to “Salt Lake Tabernacle Choir.” Beginning in the late 1980s, the name “Mormon Tabernacle Choir” was the name predominantly used for the Choir, although the shorter “Tabernacle Choir” was often used.
This new name for The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square in 2018 represented a change after so many years. But it did not represent a change in the Choir’s focus on its world-class musicianship, the inspiring arrangements and programming, and its traditional weekly Music & the Spoken Word broadcasts. As Ron Jarrett, former president of The Tabernacle Choir, explained, “The name may change, but everything that people know and love about the Choir will not only be the same but will get better and better.”